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The Best Ways to Travel Around Japan

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The Tokaido Shinkansen high speed bullet train route, with Mount Fuji in the

The Tokaido Shinkansen high speed bullet train route, with Mount Fuji in the

Getting around a new country can feel intimidating, but visitors to Japan are often pleasantly surprised by the best ways to travel around the country.

Travelers with Zicasso can move around the country with ease, as when traveling in the hands of a travel expert for Japan, you can relax and enjoy the ride.

Race across train tracks hugged by vibrant pink cherry blossoms, zip through the cities comfortably in private vehicles, or cruise across the glowing lakes by boat.

Best for Long Distances: Trains & Flights

Local train in the Japanese countryside with cherry blossoms along the route

Local train in the Japanese countryside with cherry blossoms along the route

Trains:

Trains are a fantastic way to travel long distances in Japan. The train network across the country offers excellent connections to major cities on the famous Shinkansen bullet train while slower scenic trains wind up to popular mountain destinations. The high-speed trains can reach up to 199 miles per hour on the nine lines traveling across Japan in different directions. The most popular high-speed train routes include Tokyo to Yokohama, Osaka to Kyoto, and Osaka to Nagoya.

Scenic trains give you a picturesque journey at a slower pace reaching more rural destinations. The slower trains venture through the gorgeous countryside embodied in the popular lines like Mount Fuji to Shinkansen, the Hisatsu Line, and the Sagano Scenic Railway.

Flights:

Japan has more than 50 domestic airports for easy national and international connections. The number of airports across Japan makes it easy to travel across the island, or between islands. While bullet train travel is often the best option for longer distances such as Tokyo and Sapporo or Tokyo and Fukuoka, these are better reached by plane.

Best for Short Travel: Private Chauffeur, Cars, and Buses

Transportation station in Kanazawa, Japan

Transportation station in Kanazawa, Japan

Private Driver:

Japan is a gorgeous country with stunning heritage towns and scenic roads that a private driver can connect you with for your benefit. A driver often doubles as a guide who takes you quickly and efficiently through a city based on your schedule. Whether you are interested in reaching a village in the mountains or have an early morning flight, a private driver offers personal attention, quality service, and a sense of luxury.

Car Rental:

Japan can be a satisfying driving destination if you plan on visiting rural areas that lack public transportation. The amazing scenery outside of the large cities brings an inspiring view of the natural beauty while a vast network of well-planned and maintained highways and roads eases your ride. Driving in big cities like Tokyo or Kyoto can feel like a burden because of traffic, navigation challenges, and limited, as well as expensive, parking but when outside of the city, you can explore Japan’s natural beauty and heritage villages.

Buses:

A bus can make for a pleasant trip and is an alternative to train travel. Whether on a highway between cities or into rural areas, fares are based on distance, and the dense network of bus lines has numerous companies and routes, especially to and from Tokyo. Luxury amenities like wifi, electrical outlets, and personal entertainment systems are part of the experience as you ride on the well-designed vast network of highways. In addition to the modern amenities included on most buses, it is a great alternative to traveling far without taking the train or flying.

Best for Urban Travel: Taxis, Buses, and Ridesharing Apps

Taxi at Shibuya crossing in Tokyo, Japan

Taxi at Shibuya crossing in Tokyo, Japan

Taxis & Buses:

Taxis and metros are great alternatives to walking when visiting larger cities like Tokyo or Kyoto. The network of subways connects to the greater rail systems making it much easier to travel the wider regions of the country. The metro systems across Japan are reliable, clean, and easy to manage. Licensed taxis provide quality services but are expensive and most often unnecessary given the efficiency and ease of public transportation across the nation.

Local buses in Japan can be intimidating whether you are a Japanese citizen or a tourist. Local buses often have different ticketing systems that depend on the specific company and bus stops are not necessarily well-marked. Information in English, such as timetables, announcements, and signs is also not that common.

Ridesharing Apps:

Ridesharing apps are legal in Japan but require a driver to have a commercial license. While popular in the United States and several countries around the world, ridesharing apps like Uber are available but are not as convenient. Many of the apps are not well-known, and due to the commercial license requirement, it often results in a personal car being more expensive than a standard taxi. Japan does have a taxi app that makes hailing a cab much easier and more efficient.

Best Alternative Travel: Boats

Kyusho Ferry, connecting Nagasaki Prefecture with Kumamoto Prefecture. Photo courtesy Kyusho Ferry / JNTO

Boats:

The nation of Japan consists of hundreds of small islands, and a boat or ferry can take you between the majority of the archipelago, especially for those destinations not connected by bridges or tunnels. Ferries are equipped for long distances or even night services and offer charging stations or free wifi. Popular sea routes include Kobe to Hiroshima or Osaka to Matsuyama.

More Travel Information & Tips

Traveling within Japan is exceptional from its high-speed trains to accommodating ferries. These factors allow you to enjoy the country’s top destinations and everything in between to the fullest. Through our Japan Travel Guide, you are able to explore even more information and inspiration that will prepare you for your trip. When you are ready to plan, reach out to one of our Traveler Care team members at 1-888-265-9707, or submit a Trip Request and outline the basics of your trip to get started in the planning process.

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